Five Practices to Improve Your Registration
By Charitie K. Horsley, CPC
To compete in today’s tough and ever-changing environment, focus on some of the simplest steps to secure payment for services.
Physician practices continue to lag behind other healthcare-related industries in handling patient registration. Dental, optical, and pharmaceutical offices understand and are much better at verifying eligibility and benefits prior to rendering services. Most physician practices continue their routine registration habits, regardless of significant financial loss. Only 50 percent of healthcare organizations verify patients’ information prior to rendering services. Top claims denial reasons continue to be patient registration-related, including:
- Patient not eligible
- Incorrect patient identification
- Coverage terminated
The top five best practices for improving your registration quality and point of service collections include:
- Recognize that registration is a financial function. This position must be seen as a key to the financial success of the company. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the position or necessary skills. Identify the specific skills needed and ensure that your registration staff members possess those skills.
- Pre-register information. Pre-register the patient’s demographic and insurance information either in person or via a patient portal or secure online form.
- Verify benefits and eligibility at least 48 hours before the patient’s appointment. With all of the automation available today, and the latest compliance deadline for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) transaction code sets 270/271 for patient eligibility now in effect, it’s much easier to get needed information to collect these balances at the time of service.
- Secure payment of all patient responsibility amounts at the time of service. Co-payments should be collected prior to rendered services and all other amounts due, including deductibles, should be collected as soon as services are rendered. The use of a pre-authorization form, where the patient authorizes you to draw up to $250 from a credit or debit card within 90 days from the date of service, helps to secure payment if exact amounts are not known on the date of service. Be sure that you have a secure mechanism for storing the patient’s credit or debit card information.
- Perform quality assurance audits on registration staff and processes. Make each piece of data is a measurable component of an overall score and use the quality assurance data to provide a benchmark and set goals to improving registration accuracy and point of service collections. Remember: “What is measured improves.”
A little focus on the front end of the revenue cycle makes a big impact on the end result and ultimately the practice’s ability to get paid for all of the services rendered. Take the time to review and discuss these five suggestions in depth and you will be surprised at your performance and ability to make measurable improvements.